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A new route for tackling treatment-resistant prostate cancer
Date:7/24/2012

Scientists have identified what may be the Peyton Manning of prostate cancer. It's a protein that's essential for the disease to execute its game plan: Grow and spread throughout the body.

Like any good quarterback, this protein has command over the entire field; not only does it control cell growth in tumors that are sensitive to hormone therapy, a common treatment for men with advanced disease, but also in tumors that grow resistant to such treatment a dismal development that leaves men and their doctors with no good options to turn to.

In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, a team led by scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center found that the protein paxillin is a major player in prostate cancer, the second most common form of cancer in men. Though in the very early stages, the discovery is an important first step towards developing a treatment for men whose cancer prevails even after the most aggressive treatment.

"The holy grail in prostate cancer is to figure out why cells stop responding to hormone therapy," said senior study author Stephen R. Hammes, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Medical Center. Initially, hormone therapy, which starves tumors of the hormones that fuel their growth, works well and may lead to remission. But, according to the American Cancer Society, nearly all prostate cancers treated with hormone therapy become resistant over a period of months or years and the cancer makes an unwelcome comeback.

"Somehow, tumors find a way to grow even when their main power source is choked off," noted Hammes, also the Louis S. Wolk Distinguished Professor in Medicine. "Our work is exciting because we've identified a protein pathway that controls growth even in the absence of hormones and provides a completely new treatment target for the disease."

Hammes and first author Aritro Sen, Ph.D., Research Assistant
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Contact: Emily Boynton
emily_boynton@urmc.rochester.edu
585-273-1757
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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